Crowded fields in Westside races narrow for November runoffs
By Joe Piasecki and Gary Walker
Autumn Burke knocked out rival Simona Farrise in the race for an open state Assembly seat, Santa Monica school board member Ben Allen will
face attorney Sandra Fluke in a state Senate runoff and Republican Elan Carr will battle Democratic state Sen. Ted Lieu to take over for Henry Waxman in Congress, Westside voters decided Tuesday.
Former state legislator Sheila Kuehl, who topped a field of eight candidates vying for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Third District seat, is also headed to a runoff with former Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver.
Overall voter turnout in Los Angeles County was a dismal 13.2%, with about 636,000 of some 4.8 million registered voters casting ballots, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office.
At 18% voter participation, turnout for the 33rd Congressional District race exceeded the county average but was sluggish for a contest that garnered national attention and featured a crowded ballot of 18 candidates.
With 61% of votes cast in the historically left-leaning district divided among three Democrats and well-funded Independent Marianne Williamson, criminal prosecutor Carr — one of only two Republicans in the race — walked away as the top finisher with 21.5% support, about 17,900 votes.
Lieu received 19% of votes cast to finish second and also advance to the runoff.
Former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, who trailed Lieu with 16.8% of the vote, finished third and was eliminated from the contest. Williamson finished with 13% of the vote, and radio host Matt Miller finished fifth at about 12%.
Lieu said Wednesday that he would continue to focus on education, job creation and environmental protection heading into November.
“We feel pretty good about how we ran our campaign, which was a very positive campaign,” Lieu said.
In the eight-way race for the 26th California Senate District, Allen, a Democrat, jumped ahead early during the vote-by-mail tally and held on to the lead all night, finishing with 21.8% support, or roughly 19,700 votes.
Redondo Beach attorney Seth Stodder, an Independent, held second place early but was gradually overtaken by Fluke, a Democrat, and eliminated from the runoff. Fluke finished with 19.7% support; Stodder with 17.5%.
Former state Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and Manhattan Beach Mayor Amy Howorth received 16.7 % and 15.5% support and came in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Republican-turned Independent Bill Bloomfield, a businessman who two years ago challenged Waxman at the polls, spent more than $500,000 in support of Allen, according to Secretary of State records.
In what had been a tepid race to start, the rivalry between Democrats Burke and Farrise for California’s 62nd Assembly District heated to a boil in the week before Election Day.
Independent political action committees supporting Burke, daughter of former L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, launched attack ads against Farrise that dredged up past charges of real estate fraud against Farrise that were later dropped.
Farrise, an attorney, announced last week that she would pursue a defamation lawsuit and said she had been the victim of identity theft by a physically abusive ex-husband.
The Farrise campaign countered with attack mailers accusing Burke of being in bed with Big Oil interests.
“Because it was so untrue I actually just never acknowledged it,” Burke said of those ads. “I was endorsed by the Sierra Club and went through their vetting process.”
In the end, Burke captured a commanding 41.2% of the vote compared to 12.5% for Farrise, who was eliminated from the primary.
Republican Ted Grose, a real estate executive, captured second place with 20% of the vote and will face Burke in November.
L.A. County Board of Supervisors
Kuehl finished comfortably ahead of Shriver, posting 36.2% voter support over Shriver’s 28.8% in a contest that saw participation from just under 12% of the more than one million registered voters in the district.
Both Democrats head into the runoff. West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, also a Democrat, came in third with 16.4% support and was eliminated from the contest.
Kuehl said she would continue to tout her 14 years of legislative experience in the run-up to November.
Because the county board administers state and federal funding across municipal lines, “my experience as a state legislator is more relevant to what supervisors do” compared to Shriver’s city council experience, she said.